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Banner company reinvents for success

News | January 1, 2010 | By:

Kurt Lisk watched the development of digital fabric graphics closely, but held off introducing the technology into his business until it was right for his product.

“For us it became the right decision when they went to a direct-to-fabric print instead of a paper transfer,” Lisk says. “We were never happy with a paper transfer. The direct-to-fabric print meant that for our product we could have a good image quality on both sides.”

Lisk is president of Get in the Wind of Pensacola, Fla., maker of Wind-feathers®, portable signage that is sort of a hybrid of a banner and a flag.

“You’ve got a bigger message area and total portability so you can set your Windfeather wherever you want to as quickly as you want to,” Lisk says.

The introduction of digital printing was just one stage in an invention and reinvention process that Lisk has engaged in for nearly two decades, and one that began somewhat unintentionally. Lisk’s father, Keith, purchased a retail kite store in the Florida resort town of Destin in the early 1990s. The Lisks had seen flying, banner-like signage at kite festivals and decided to construct a few to advertise the store. They realized quickly that when they set up the flying banners on the beach and flew their kites, potential customers found them much more approachable. Other beachfront businesses noticed, too, and asked for similar signage.

“So we went back to the shop and spent some time to develop a process to be able to make complex images, because, of course, back then we didn’t even have a computer,” Lisk says. “We were doing it all by hand, every single bit of it, and it evolved from there.”

That evolution has taken the business from a one-car garage to a manufacturing facility, and the product from fishing poles to high-tech fiberglass.

“We had to invent a pole that actually worked, and now we have the best pole on the market,” he says.

With half of its staff coming from a theater background, Get in the Wind takes on all kinds of projects—from parade floats to the PGA—and recently debuted a 60-foot Windfeather. About 50 percent of its business involves digital graphics, with the rest being appliqué, which Lisk says still has its advantages for certain designs and clients.

“But for our larger customers, advertising agencies, those big-name advertisers out there, they want the digital print because of the quality of images they can put on it,” Lisk says.

Jill C. Lafferty is a freelance writer based in Minnesota and editor of InTents, a publication of the Industrial Fabrics Association International.

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